Today, Maura came into my room. She looked at me, then looked at her shoes.
I knew what she wanted. Her shoes were untied. She can’t tie shoes. I was supposed to tie her shoes.
Sometimes, I just interpret the look and do what she’s willing me to do with her mind. Because I’ve spent almost thirteen years with this girl, I am really dang good at interpreting her looks, shrugs, body language, and other unspoken communication.
But the goal is to get her to talk more. She can, she just doesn’t sometimes. Because she’s used to me being her “beck and call” girl.
Today though, I kept my eye on the prize.
“What do you want Maura?”
“Help with what?”
Okay, we’ll call that a winner. I tied the things needing tied.
This is what I do 4832 times a day. She gestures, looks, shrugs something, and I play the “use your words” game. She screams over something, and I say “Use words, what’s wrong?” She wants something, and I know what she wants, so I prep her – “Ask Collin if you can use the tv.”
“Sure Maura!” Collin agrees. Because the older three are used to this as well. When I use a certain voice, they know I’m working at getting her to ask, to use words, to express herself in English rather than in screams and fits. We all benefit from it.
Granted, that means there are days I go around doing a great impression of Mr. Rogers. But as an adult, I’ve grown to appreciate Fred Rogers, and the magic he created, so I’m okay with doing an impression of him. Hell, I wear cardigans sometimes with my sneakers. It’s cool.
And then, I get moments where it all pays off.
Yesterday, we went to Red Robin for dinner. Maura spotted other kids getting balloons. “I want balloon.” she stated.
“When we’re all done.” I replied.
As we went to leave, there was the stand of balloons. She squealed, rushed over to the stand.
“Wait Maura, we have to ask for one.” I said. Because one of the top ten life lessons is “you can’t just take what you want”. I spotted someone at the hostess stand.
“Here Maura, ask her.”
Maura walked up to the girl. “Uhhh…canihaveaballoonplease?”
“Can I have a balloon please?” I said. Because while I heard all the words, I could see the moment of confusion across the girl’s face.
“Yes.” she said, smiling at Maura.
Maura squealed and picked out a balloon.
“Thank you.” I said to the girl. grateful that even though she didn’t quite get what was going on, she played along. Meanwhile, I was still very impressed that Maura used a complete sentence to ask for something she wanted. A complete sentence people. Six words in a row! That was a winning gold star moment.
This morning, Maura found me in the kitchen. “Catch Mom!” she said, batting the balloon at me with a laugh.
I batted the balloon back.
We went back and forth with the balloon when I suddenly realized…she was using perfect volleyball formations. She held her hands at the ready. She tossed the balloon up with one hand and served it with the other. And when I missed and it hit the ground, she yelled “YES!”
“Do we need to get you a volleyball?”
“Yes!” she stated.
My girl plays volleyball people. And I know this because she asked for a balloon, and then played volleyball with me in the kitchen.
Nothing happens overnight in our household, not with Maura. But then, we have this bursts of blooming, like spring, where several new skills and abilities pop up at once. This is why, as I repeat myself for the 6987th time with Maura, I remember to be patient. It may take her longer to learn, but she’s still learning.
Hell, I’m still learning. Today, I learned that my daughter plays volleyball better than me. And I’m thrilled about it.